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Baldwin Park Living Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 2 weeks ago

Baldwin Park celebrates Thanksgiving in style

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This year, we asked Baldwin Park residents to share their favorite Turkey Day dishes and welcome you to add a few of these to your menu this year.
by: Annabelle Sikes Staff Writer

As soon as Central Florida enjoyed its first “cold” front of the season in mid-October, it seemed to usher in the 2021 holiday season.

Many families have plenty of Thanksgiving traditions — including some recipes that result in dishes that embody the spirit of the holiday.

This year, we asked Baldwin Park residents to share their favorite Turkey Day dishes and welcome you to add a few of these to your menu this year.

THE APPETIZER

Will Campbell

Baldwin Park Joint Committee president and regular columnist Will Campbell shares this mouth-watering recipe that can be perfect for any holiday occasion.

Maple Bacon Crack

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 tube crescent rolls
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecan pieces

METHOD

  • Cook bacon until soft, not crunchy, drain, chop then set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Roll out crescent roll dough onto parchment paper and pinch the seams to make a single sheet. Prick crescent roll dough all over with a fork. Spread half the maple syrup on top of the dough using a pastry brush. Evenly spread 3/4 cup brown sugar on top. Top with chopped bacon and chopped pecan pieces. Drizzle with maple syrup again.
  • Bake in the oven 22 to 25 minutes. When done, allow to cool then cut into pieces and serve. Drool worthy!

THE TURKEY

Cory Painter

Baldwin Park resident Cory Painter says growing up, he knew one thing about making a turkey — no one in his family was an expert.

“It seemed like each year someone else was volunteered as tribute to have their turkey unfairly critiqued,” Painter says. “When I started college, a group of friends and I were unable to travel home for Thanksgiving because of our work schedules. As fate would decide, I was volunteered to cook the turkey.”

Painter says naturally, he panicked. However, he decided to keep it simple and bought an oven bag to put the turkey in while it cooked. Here’s as simple as it gets, folks.

No mess, easy, oven bag baked turkey

INGREDIENTS

  • Whole turkey
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Stove Top stuffing
  • Oven bag
  • Flour

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not exceed 400 degrees.
  • Add one tablespoon of flour to the oven bag and shake (this will keep the bag from bursting). Put the bag in a pan, at least two inches deep.
  • Spread butter all over the outside of the turkey and season with salt and pepper. Stuff the turkey with onion quarters, carrot sticks, celery, and my wife insists on Stove Top stuffing (even though I make homemade stuffing, but happy wife, happy life!). 
  • Place the bird in the bag and close it with a tie.
  • Cut six half-inch slits on the top of the bag to let the steam escape. Tuck ends of bag into the pan.
  • Cook according to specified recipe. The bag will do all the work and lock in the flavor while basting the ingredients.

THE SIDES

Gabriel Gonzalez, aka Chef Smokey, Provisions and Buzz Co.

Longtime Baldwin Park resident Gabriel Gonzalez loves the areas family centered community and the friendly neighbors.

“For me, the recipe for figs is special for the reason that my mother made them on Christmas Day; it remains to be said that I am a native Mexican,” Gonzalez says. “What I like the most about Thanksgiving is living with the people you appreciate the most, although sometimes you can’t be with your parents, but everyone is in your heart.”

Smokey Stuffed Figs

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 figs
  • 100 grams goat cheese
  • 100 grams almond
  • 1 ounce liquid smoke
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 6 ounces walnuts

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Clean the figs and remove the stalk. Cut at the top, at the point where the fig begins to enlarge, and empty the fig very delicately. Reserve its pulp in a container.
  • Mash the goat cheese with a fork, until it is soft.
  • Roast the almonds with liquid smoke.
  • Put the sweet potatoes on boiling for 15 minutes. Peel and cut potatoes into slices
  • Mix the reserved fig pulp with the cheese and fill the fig, very delicately, with this mixture.
  • Put on the sweet potato slice. Add crushed walnuts on top.

Alysha Levin

Alysha Levin has lived in Baldwin Park for a year and loves its sense of community.

Levin’s favorite part about Thanksgiving is coming together with family.

“It’s one time where we have a really nice dinner together at the table with no distractions,” Levin says. “It’s always hectic, but I wouldn’t change it.”

She says her aunt would make an amazing sweet potato casserole every year that has won over everyone including those who aren’t sweet potato fans — including her dad. With this recipe, he even goes for seconds.

Ultimate Sweet Potato Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • Fresh sweet potatoes
  • Brown sugar
  • Pecans
  • Egg
  • Unsalted butter and milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour

METHOD

  • Cook the potatoes. I prefer to peel and cube the sweet potatoes prior to boiling. This cuts down on the cooking time. Once cooked, mash them using a potato masher or hand mixer. Set aside.
  • Toast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Measure two cups of pecans, lay them on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for a few minutes. Check on them often to not burn them. Toasting the pecans is optional, but it will add more flavor to the dish.
  • Prepare other ingredients. While the potatoes are cooking, gather the ingredients for the casserole. In a large bowl, add flour brown sugar, and cinnamon. Then, add butter to it, and mix the ingredients together. Set aside.
  • Make the sweet potato mixture. In a separate bowl, add the mashed potatoes, roasted pecans, brown sugar, two large eggs, melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour some milk on top and mix till the texture is consistent. 
  • Assembly. Combine all the ingredients and layer them into the prepared casserole dish.
  • Bake. Lastly, bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cover with foil to keep it warm. Spray the foil first with baking spray to avoid marshmallows sticking to it.

Myriam Garcia

Since Myriam Garcia first moved to the United States from Colombia in 2000, she has prepared Thanksgiving dinners that incorporate dishes from her beloved country. That way, she can share a little bit of Colombia with her loved ones. She says she loves this side dish, because it’s easy and the kids ask for it every year.

“Our two kids have made many, many lifelong friends,” Garcia says. “No wonder so many people never want to leave Baldwin Park. It’s the friendships and community that keep people here.”

Saffron Mashed Yuca

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound frounceen yuca or cassava
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

  • Place the yuca in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fork tender.
  • Heat the milk, cream, garlic and saffron in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Drain the yuca and remove any fiber from the center. Mash and add the milk saffron mixture, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and serve.

Miranda Cady

Miranda Cady has lived in Baldwin Park for a year and says she absolutely loves it. As a luxury real-estate agent, Cady sees many neighborhoods and houses, but she says nothing compares to the community in Baldwin.

Cady’s favorite part of Thanksgiving is making memories and being together with family.

“There’s nothing more important in life than a solid foundation and great people to share your time with and there’s something about Thanksgiving tradition that just brings people together in the best way,” Cady says. “Having great food, sharing it with even better people and having gratitude.”

Favorite Dinner Rolls

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for brushing
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

METHOD

  • Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and sugar and let cool.
  • Dissolve yeast in warm water and let sit until foamy.
  • Combine milk mixture, eggs, yeast, salt, and 1/2 of the flour in a mixer with the dough attachment and mix until smooth.
  • Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.
  • Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 60 to 70 minutes. On a floured surface, punch down the dough and shape into desired shapes.
  • Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover again and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter before serving.

THE DESSERTS

Camilla Cardenas

Camilla Cardenas is a 9-year-old baker and owner of Camilla’s Bakery (Facebook and website) in Baldwin Park. She started the business because baking is her passion and she wanted to be able to share it with everyone.

“I like this recipe, because it shows how much I love to bake, and it is my brother’s favorite dessert for Thanksgiving,” Cardenas says. “At Thanksgiving, I love cooking and baking with my family, then seating at the table together and taking turns to say what we are grateful for.”

Orange Spice and White Chocolate Cheesecake

INGREDIENTS

  • Crust
  • 1 1⁄2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 14-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 1⁄2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped

Garnish

  • 1 orange
  • Whipped cream
  • Sugared cranberries

METHOD

  • Make crust. Position racks in center and lower third of oven.Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Press onto bottom a 1 1⁄2-inch up side of 9-inch-by-3-inch nonstick springform pan (if not using nonstick pan, coat with cooking spray first). Bake 15 minutes or until set; cool.
  • Prepare butter. On low speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time; beat in sour cream and cornstarch. Transfer half of batter, about 3 cups, to separate bowl and stir in vanilla.
  • Make white chocolate batter. In microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips according to package directions until melted; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Stir half of vanilla batter into white chocolate. (If chocolate lumps up, microwave on low in 5-second intervals, stirring, until smooth; do not overheat.) Stir in remaining vanilla batter. Cover; refrigerate.
  • Make orange spice batter. Stir zest, cinnamon and nutmeg into remaining plain batter. Pour into crust.
  • Bake cheesecake. Place roasting pan on lower oven rack; fill halfway with water. Place cheesecake pan on rack above water-filled pan. Bake 50 minutes or until center jiggles slightly when pan is shaken.
  • Make cranberry filling. Meanwhile, combine cranberry sauce and dried cranberries. Remove cheesecake from oven. Evenly spread cranberry mixture over cheesecake; top with reserved white chocolate batter (batter will come up to top of pan). Bake 1 hour or until center is set. Turn off oven; let cake stand in oven with door closed 1 hour. Run knife around edge to loosen. Cool on rack. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
  • Decorate cheesecake. For orange peel leaves, using knife, cut peel in wide sections with some pith attached. Using maple leaf cutter, cut out leaves; with knife, score veins in leaves. Garnish cheesecake with whipped cream, leaves and sugared cranberries.

Bree Holbrook

Bree Holbrook says she loves being part of a community of people who care and want to help Orlando be a better place. Now living in Baldwin Park for eight years, Holbrook is sharing her family’s recipe for a Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake.

“I love Thanksgiving, because it’s a wonderful reminder of all we have and can be grateful for,” Holbrook says.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 2 sticks melted and divided butter
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 (8-ounce) package softened cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To make the cake, combine cake mix, 1 stick melted butter and one egg, and mix well. Pat the mixture into a lightly greased 13-inch-by-9-inch baking pan.
  • Prepare filling. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the three eggs, vanilla and 1 stick melted butter; beat together.
  • Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.
  • Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to over-bake; the center should be a little gooey.
  • Serve with fresh whipped cream.

THE BEVERAGE

Janet Katz, beverage director, The Osprey

Janey Katz, beverage director at The Osprey, has worked in Baldwin Park for more than five years.

“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays,” Katz says. “It was super exciting to have the opportunity to create a cool cocktail that anyone can make at home.”

She says her favorite part of Thanksgiving is the food and how every home, especially growing up, made things differently than her family.

“Pass the cranberry sauce” cocktail

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 bottle (500 mL) Flor de  Cana four-year rum
  • 250 mL Goslings black rum
  • 250 mL Cranberry syrup (see recipe)
  • 250 mL Fresh lemon juice
  • 125 mL Rich Demerara syrup (see recipe)

METHOD

  • Add all ingredients into punch bowl.
  • For serving, add two dashes of orange bitters to each glass.
  • Ladle punch mix. Garnish with orange wheels, rosemary and star anise.

Cranberry syrup

INGREDIENTS

  • 25 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 6 ounces simple syrup
  • 4 ounces honey
  • 4 ounces hot water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

METHOD

  • Add to a medium size pot on low heat and cook down slowly for 30 minutes. Stirring frequently, strain.

Rich Demerara syrup

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces Demerara or turbinado sugar
  • 4 ounces water

METHOD

  • Add ingredients to small pot on medium-low heat and slowly cook down until the sugar dissolves.

 

 

 

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Annabelle Sikes is a staff writer at the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.  Her past...

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